Men’s College Basketball
Lehigh University 92, Rider University 78
BETHLEHEM, PA— Lehigh graduate Robert Serber was a physicist who participated in the Manhattan Project. Tuesday night it was the Lehigh basketball team that was making bomb after bomb, shooting 58.8 percent from the field, including 60.9 percent from three-point range (14 of 23).
“They were unbelievably hot from behind the (three-point) line,” said Rider head coach Kevin Baggett.
Lehigh made 12 of its first 17 shots from the field, including eight of 11 threes, to take a 37-18 lead and never looked back, as the Mountain Hawks defeated Rider in the 2013-14 season opener. “This is a good shooting ball club,” Baggett said of the Mountain Hawks. “They made us pay for our defensive breakdowns.”
For Rider (0-1), senior Daniel Stewart (Philadelphia, PA/Neumann-Goretti), a Preseason Second Team All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference selection, compiled 24 points, two shy of his career high, making all 10 of his foul shots.
For Lehigh (1-1), Austin Price scored 21 points, making five three-pointers, and Jesse Chuku scored 18 points, making all four of his three-pointers.
Lehigh jumped out to an 18-2 lead, six points by Price and five by Chuku. “You can’t fall behind like that,” Baggett said. “We dug ourselves too big a hole. We did not come out and contest shots.”
Rider out-scored Lehigh 53-48 in the second half, but the 44-25 halftime lead by Lehigh was too much to overcome. The last time Rider gave up 92 points was a 95-75 loss at Marist on December 4, 2011.
“We are going to have to defend,” Baggett said. “That’s what I preach, that’s the type of coach I am. We have to be able to give ourselves a chance to win games. We have to play defense.”
Lehigh senior Mackey McKnight, a Preseason All-Patriot League pick and the leading returning scorer from last year, compiled 14 points and 10 assists. “McKnight is good and leads them as a senior point guard should,” Baggett said.
Also for Rider, senior Anthony Myles (Dover, DE/Poly-Tech) added 12 points, freshman Jimmie Taylor (Suwannee, Fla./Suwannee) had 11 points, junior Junior Fortunat (Montreal, Quebec/Roman Catholic) had 10 points and four rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench, and senior Tommy Pereira (Nottingham, England/Canarias Basketball Academy) had 10 points in 20 minutes off the bench.
Rider won the 2012-13 season opener at home against Robert Morris and won the 2009-10 season opener at #18 Mississippi State.
The Broncs and Engineers (nickname at that time) are former Middle Atlantic Conference (early 1970s) and East Coast Conference (1974 to 1990) rivals.
The series history began in 1965-66 and Rider holds a 31-21 advantage. Rider won the last two meetings before this one, 86-71 on November 16, 2009 at Rider and 69-68 on November 20, 2008 here in Bethlehem. Before that the last meeting was a 76-69 Lehigh ECC victory during the 1989-90 season, Lehigh’s fifth win in a row over Rider.
Rider travels to West Lafayette, Indiana to take on the Purdue Boilermakers Sunday.